Failing dreams

Jo Walton’s The Philosopher Kings (Corsair, £8.99) is the sequel to the Just City (Corsair, £8.99).

After the Last Debate and Simmea’s murder in an art theft, we see the beginning of the dream of Plato’s Republic failing with some deft nods into history, neo-Platonism, and the fantastic. To err and interpret, it would appear, is very human.

Over the course of the books, one wonders if Walton reflecting on the notion of the Fall in the fantastic. The inhabitants enter the dream of Plato’s republic as an experiment and see it falter. Apart from being a thought experiment with “what if”, the couplet of books reflect on the Fall. Given an Eden, the world fails with the human actions and interpretations of the dream.

Instead of remaining as a world in stasis, it changes and moves on. Rather than being a post-lapsarian desire to return back through the gates and forget about the apple, the world meditates on  how it can move on. It is more exciting and dangerous than one might like but the way in which we think about the dreams. It reminds me of the issues that I has with China Miéville’s Iron Council. An accomplished novel, and I get the reasoning, but the ending has always disappointed me. Although he avoids the revolution for political reasons, Walton sees the world revolt and revolve.

I suspect that I’d get more out of the books if I had read Plato’s Republic. It is to Walton’s credit as a writer that a very basic knowledge can allow one into the world.

Walton’s world forces the characters to change. Ruminating on the way in which the worlds build and characters bring in their own views and how these must change. It taps into the challenges to the fantastic from Mary Gentle and Tad Williams to China Miéville, providing a necessary mirror to the genre.

I loved she her earlier book on what she had re-read and on this showing, will be looking for her other novels in due course.

This entry was posted in Books. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *